March 24, 2011 – Regardless of when you went to school, the image that comes to your mind when hearing the term librarian is very similar to mine and everyone else’s. Gray hair, bun, wire framed glasses on a lanyard sitting on the end of her nose and tight pursed lips that you are sure haven’t smiled in years, if ever. Was I really that far off? 

The Columbus Dispatch brought this appropriate and encouraging topic to our attention in their article, “Librarians shed their stodgy image as the world of accessing information changes.” Even imagery around the library itself is stoic and predictable. However, many libraries are taking steps to change the button-down culture into an approachable and inviting atmosphere. 

The way information is created, shared and accessed has dramatically shifted over the past decades and this changes the way library careers are viewed as well. They have become more important, more trendy…more techie. Staff members are educated on tweets, wikis, e-readers, and yes, YouTube. The new librarians are social extroverts who will actually speak above a whisper in library confines, and allow you to do the same. 

According to a study released last year by the Online Computer Library Center in Dublin, 83 percent of survey respondents view librarians as beneficial in the search for information, a 7 percent increase from a similar 2005 survey. In addition, librarians find the calling straight after finishing an undergraduate program – a shift from prior years when more folks explored the job as a second career. 

Melody K. Smith